Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy

Frank Grillo is already a part of the Marvel cinematic universe - he played Crossbones in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and has a contract with the studio to reprise his role in a few more movies - but his performance in The Purge: Anarchy could also serve as a roundabout audition for another Marvel character: The Punisher. While there isn't any official discussion about Grillo taking on that role (yet), his trenchcoat-wearing, brooding badass in this film is a dead ringer for Frank Castle. They're both out to avenge fallen family members, but lucky for Grillo's Sergeant (who never gets a name in Anarchy), it's Purge night - so that makes his vengeance legal.

The Purge: Anarchy
Writer/Director: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zoe Soul, Kiele Sanchez, Zach Gilford



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

After a brief credits sequence explaining how the virus from the last film wiped out most of the human population, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes begins with an extreme closeup of Caesar's eyes. The camera slowly pulls back, revealing every tiny detail of his face. Even though I know intellectually that actor Andy Serkis is providing performance capture work to play this character, the movie doesn't even give you a split second to think about that: there is no Serkis, there is only Caesar. It's a ballsy move on director Matt Reeves' part, too, because if the graphics aren't quite up to snuff, you'll instantly be able to tell. He's essentially daring you to find a flaw, but in this shot - and in fact, in every shot involving apes in this movie - there are none to find. The visual effects team at WETA has outdone themselves once again, giving us a movie in which the apes look completely and totally real.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction

There's no need for us to denounce Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction as the downfall of modern cinema, because one of his characters essentially does it for us. Early on, as Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) rummages through a run-down old theater, the theater owner makes a comment about how sequels are the reason why it failed. Bay knows that the films of this franchise are constantly crapped on, but he clearly doesn't care. This is the most excessive movie he's ever made, and it's also one of his worst.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci



Friday, June 13, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2

The first How To Train Your Dragon was an incredible surprise for two reasons: it was a DreamWorks Animation film that was actually good after a long stretch of questionable films (save Kung Fu Panda), and it out-Avatared James Cameron's Avatar with its depiction of immersive and jaw-dropping 3D flight sequences. The story and voice work were stellar, and the film's visual flair produced some of the most impressive action sequences that graced a movie screen that year. It's been four years since the first film was released, and now writer/director Dean DeBlois (co-writer and co-director of the original) is back to continue the story with How To Train Your Dragon 2.

How To Train Your Dragon 2
Writer/Director: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett